As members of Gen Z have declared side parts and the laugh-cry emoji decidedly uncool, a more recent line of attack has confronted our intrepid fashion friend Alison O’Brien, owner of Injeanius: throngs of people entering her store asking, “Can I still wear my skinny jeans?”
A simple google search will dig up several eulogies for the so-called dearly departed of denim, but Alison says not so fast. As grown-ups, we know what fits our unique body types, and following one’s most personal sense of style will always be in fashion. We went to Alison to get some pro tips about the questions we should instead be asking when sorting through our denim drawers at any age.
For the love of fit.
Alison focuses her fit considerations on two things: pocket placement and fit through the midriff. These are the places that can’t be altered by tailoring. In the case of pocket placement, she advises you to “know thy bum”—as in, are the pockets giving you the back you crave or are they helping to minimize your assets? In the midriff area, you want neither extra fabric nor too much tightness. Remember, jeans should be snug when you buy them—not cutting-off-circulation tight. Can you do a squat? You’re good. Taking in a waist or shortening (you should always aim to show your ankle) can be handled by a tailor, with our tailoring tips in hand.
A lightning round of other things to watch for? Whiskering, which mimics how jeans would fade in creases, can create slimming depth. If you’re shorter, skinny jeans will elongate your legs. Rise (the measurement from the top of the waist band to the bottom of the crotch seam) is also important; a higher one will flatter most any body type, though a mid-rise can lend curves to a more boyish figure—and personal preference is a matter of discovery. Buying distressed jeans? Point your toes when you put them on to avoid those awkward foot-hooked-in-hole injuries. Alison also suggests you look at the rips to be sure they’re hitting in the right place.
A place for every pair.
The average woman has 8 pairs of jeans, but only wears 3-4 of them. Think about the purpose of your jeans—are they strictly casual or do they need to be ready for business and dressier affairs? Alison suggests a well-balanced jeans capsule: a black (or gray) pair, a light wash, a medium wash and a summer jean, which could be either white, light blue or ivory.
Beyond the box.
Staying open to trying new styles can create surprising results. We’re all for sticking with what works, but we also own that we don’t always know what that is, exactly. Maybe you’ve spent one too many years trying the wrong things and doubling down on a style that’s not quite working for you. Need some objective insight? Find a store that specializes in jeans to steer you in the right direction. Luckily, we have just that shop around the corner from The Verse newsroom—and so do you, dear reader. With one of Alison’s virtual consults, you’ll get unfettered advice *and* your very own jean box to make all your denim dreams come true. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again: Denim is an environmental super offender, with an average use of 1,800 gallons of water to produce a pair. Beyond buying upcycled or secondhand pairs, you can also look for those brands taking action to mitigate their impact—and almost all are these days. Some producers are adopting a small footprint, sourcing everything from fabric to buttons from a small geographical area. Others are using processes to clean used water and reuse it. Innovations include using lasers over chemicals and looking at kinder dyes. Alison participates in the Blue Jeans Go Green program, so send or bring a cast-off pair for 20% off your dream denim when you shop Injeanius.
Wear, wash (?), repeat.
Get your jeans out of the freezer. No, seriously. Alison says the best way to wash denim is inside out, in cold water on a delicate cycle and then let them air dry. To make sure they aren’t totally stiff when you go to put them on, you can throw them in the dryer for 10 minutes, but overall heat breaks down the fibers. You also don’t need to wash your jeans as often as you might think. An eco-friendly spray like this one reshapes and neutralizes odor so you may not need to wash your denim at all <insert mind-blown emoji here>.